Jay-Z and Nas’ feud had been steadily brewing since the mid-1990s, but it didn’t really explode until Jay-Z previewed his The Blueprint song, “Takeover,” at Hot 97’s 2001 Summer Jam concert. Concluding the moment, Hov shouted the lyrics, “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov,” and from there the beef was officially on. But, he either didn’t record or didn’t perform the actual Nas diss portion of the song that would appear on the final track when The Blueprint was released that September.
Following the preview of “Takeover,” which was not officially released yet, Nas responded with his “Stillmatic Freestyle”—a Hov diss—the same month as the 2001 Summer Jam. The diss had some quotable bars, but it simply couldn’t live up to the yet-to-be-released full version of “Takeover.”
Once “Takeover” officially dropped, it was clear that Hov had the upper hand. An exercise in concision, “Takeover” contextualized all of Nas’ perceived shortcomings, namely the idea that the Queens rapper had only dropped mediocre albums since unloading Illmatic seven years beforehand.
“You’ve been in this 10, I’ve been in it five; smarten up, Nas/Four albums in 10 years, nigga? I could divide/That’s one every… let’s say two, two of them shits was doo/One was ‘Nah…,’ the other was Illmatic/That’s a one-hot-album-every-10-year average,” Hov raps on the casually vicious track.
Nas’ “Stillmatic Freestyle”